It's Not That Trump Fired His CFO Allen Weisselberg. It's Just That His Job Is ... Smaller Now.
Sad news to report this morning, as it appears all is not well in Trumpland. The Trump Organization is quietly moving to strip longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg of his official titles, a possible signal that someone on the inside has grokked that Weisselberg's interests and those of the company are no longer coterminous now that they've both been indicted for tax fraud.
The Wall Street Journal was first to report that the CFO had been removed as director at Trump Organization entities in the US and Scotland. And it didn't take long for the Washington Post's David Fahrenthold and Shayna Jacobs to sleuth out that Weisselberg's name had been scrubbed from more than 40 Trump subsidiaries in Florida alone, including Mar-a-Lago and the Trump Payroll Corporation. But don't worry, guys, Don Jr. and Eric are in charge now, so the business is in capable hands.
The practical effect of these changes on the operation of the Trump businesses themselves may be minimal. As we saw from the Trump foundation fuckery, the Trump Organization appears to have just filled in names of the family and top retainers at random, then run things from the New York mothership as they saw fit. And indeed a source confirmed to the Post that the CFO isn't getting You're Fired just yet: "Allen Weisselberg's at the company. He's got a job. He's going to remain at the company."
So there are two ways to look at this.
The first is as an acknowledgment that the company knows it's headed for rough waters with its lenders and business partners, and having a CFO under indictment for fraud is a bad, bad look. Even before the Trump name became synonymous with hate and insurrection, Deutsche Bank was already the only lender willing to do business with his eponymous company. With $590 million of debt coming due within the next four years, more than half of which is personally guaranteed by Trump himself, the company needs to at least pretend that tax fraud isn't its standard operating procedure. Even if it's not willing to risk firing Weisselberg, like a normal company would have done five minutes after the indictment dropped, because it would place him outside the tent in position to piss in.
The second possibility is that the Trump family is about to back the bus up over Weisselberg in an attempt to save their own sorry asses. Because Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. didn't just indict Weisselberg — he indicted the Trump Organization, too, setting up a confrontation between the two defendants.
The Trumps have every incentive in the world to say that Weisselberg was acting alone when he paid himself off the books to evade federal, state, and municipal taxes. Trump may have signed the tuition checks for Weisselberg's grandchildren, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he'd swear under oath that he just signed a stack of checks and had no idea how his CFO structured his own compensation. So taking his name off the subsidiaries might well be the beginning of a gambit to make Weisselberg the fall guy for whatever Vance turns up.
Or perhaps the truth is somewhere in between, as the Trump Organization faces a range of possibilities and tries best to maneuver itself for best advantage. If they boot Weisselberg, he's got incentive to flip. But if they keep him on top, they face probable fallout from their lenders for having an indicted felon as their CFO. And if he does flip, they want to make sure he's not actively running the company when he does it — not to mention that they want to dirty him up so they can say they took steps to relieve him of command once they "discovered" his shocking corruption.
It's a nest of whores and vipers, and the only question is who loses his nerve first.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.